Charismatic Renewal a blessing to the church, says Scripture scholar

People get excited at football games. They get worked up at baseball games, and any other sport. So why shouldn’t Christians get emotional in church?

To “express our love for the Lord” in an emotional way is normal and beneficial, argues Mary Healy, one of the presenters at the Charismatic Conference being held in Wildwood this weekend.

Bishop Dennis Sullivan was scheduled to give opening remarks at the 27th annual conference, which opened at Wildwood Convention Center on Oct. 9, and runs to Oct. 11. The theme is, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (John 20:21).

Charismatics emphasize the living presence of the Holy Spirit in the church. They are open to the manifestation of special gifts of the Spirit, or charisms, such as the speaking in tongues and healing cited by St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians.

While emphasizing the positive role of emotion in worship, Healy makes repeated references to Scripture, as well as to church history and tradition. As an academic, that comes naturally to her. Healy is associate professor of Scripture at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit and senior fellow at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. She holds a doctorate in biblical theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and is the author of “Men and Women Are from Eden” and “Healing: Bringing the Gift of God’s Mercy to the World.”

For Healy, the enthusiasm at a charismatic gathering is not simply a feeling of excitement that comes and then goes, but the outward expression of individuals who love God — and in a culture where God is continually being rejected.

At the age of 12, Healy said, she saw a dramatic change in her parents after they attended a charismatic gathering. “Their hearts were set on fire. As a young person, I was impressed,” she said.

“My life also changed drastically,” she said, when she was in graduate studies at the University of Steubenville, Ohio, and became more involved with the renewal.

“I think many people are content to be Sunday Catholics, content to devote a portion of their lives to the Lord,” she said. “But to be Catholic is to give our whole lives over to God, which is only possible by the power of the Holy Spirit. What we need to do is to boldly and fervently talk about the grace of baptism in the Holy Spirit.”

Father Ariel Hernandez: pastor of the Parish of Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Newfield, will be master of ceremonies and speaker at the conference.

Other speakers are Father John Campoli of His Love Ministries, an international ministry of healing and renewal, and lay evangelist Kathleen McCarthy.

Father René Canales is moderator of the Camden Diocese Charismatic Convention.


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